This is a guest article from David Morneau. David is the co-founder and CEO of inBeat, a hybrid micro-influencer marketing SAAS/agency that helps brands scale their marketing efforts. He has helped over 200 DTC brands to date.
In today’s market, saturated with a variety of offers, it’s pretty hard to choose a product or a service right away. Customers compare the alternatives, analyze their pros and cons, and study other people’s opinions. And the more expensive the product or service, the more careful the selection.
What helps customers make the right purchase decisions? As one of the biggest factors that influence consumer behavior, social proof comes into play.
Read this article to discover the power of the social proof phenomenon and its applications to your sales and marketing strategy.
What is social proof?
Social proof is a psychological pattern in which a person cannot decide on preferred actions and relies on the actions of others. Robert Cialdini, a psychologist, considered social proof one of the key influences on people’s behavior. The assumption that people around us know more about the situation than we do makes us take clues from others. So, when making decisions, we often consider the advice of family and friends.
It is not surprising that marketers could not get past this phenomenon. Today, many brands are actively using various types of social proof in digital marketing.
What makes social proof so powerful?
When used wisely, social proof can be a powerful weapon to influence the customers’ buying behavior. Why is that?
First, discovering other buyers’ preferences motivates the prospects to explore the popular options. Seeing lots of people doing something makes our brain lower the perceived risk associated with this activity. Therefore, the selections of the top-selling and high-rated products work well for driving sales.
Second, social proof helps build trust with the audience, thereby increasing the likelihood of a purchase. In eCommerce, there is often no opportunity to see and touch a real product. According to Baymard Institute, 95% of users check reviews during their pre-purchase research. The social proof allows potential customers to explore the experience of those who have already used the product.
Third, social proof works especially well in combination with the idea of similarity. When prospects see other people just like them experiencing the positive results from using a product, they are more likely to buy it.
Fourth, social proof is scalable. You can repurpose any form of social proof across all of your marketing channels. Moreover, utilizing UGC as social proof can help you amplify your marketing message. Engaging content spreads quickly, thereby growing your brand’s social media presence. Increased brand awareness, in turn, is driving your online sales.
13 top proven ways to use social proof to drive your sales
Now you know about the power of social proof. But, how do you apply it to your digital marketing strategy? Let’s dive into the top social proof tactics to skyrocket your sales!
#1 Add customer reviews and ratings to your website
For almost half of customers worldwide, positive reviews are one of their top purchase influences. Therefore, the pages with customer reviews have a higher conversion rate than those without reviews. As research by Revoo shows, adding up to 50 reviews to a product page can increase the conversion rate by 4.6%
So, don’t miss a chance to convince your future website visitors in your favor — encourage your customers to leave reviews. To automate this process, consider sending your customers an email asking to review a product they’ve recently bought.
#2 Encourage customer reviews on independent resources
As online review stats show, 54.7% of customers read four reviews and more before buying a product. Often, these are reviews found on different resources.
So, don’t put all eggs in one basket — encourage your customers to leave reviews on various platforms. Positive customer feedback on multiple resources will help you build trust with your audience.
Besides, when different resources are mentioning your products, it is good for your website SEO.
#3 Publish case studies and success stories
Want to go further and showcase why exactly customers love your products or services? Case studies and success stories will help you with that!
To prepare case studies, reach out to your loyal customers for an interview. Ask them how exactly they benefit from your product, and which problems it helped them to solve.
For instance, if you create and sell online courses it’s best to find your most engaged students who have found success and find a way to interview them on your blog or on video.
Once you’ve done this, you can then use the interview to encourage others to buy, but you can also extraxt snippets of content to showcase their best quotes on your homepage or sales pages.
Such social proof can lower the perceived risk of buying an unknown product that your prospects might have.
#4 Share your awards and recognition
Another way to show social proof is to share the media coverage, industry recognitions, and awards received by your company. Unlike branded content that comes from a company itself, this kind of social proof comes from third-party sources.
Your company has made into the list of top service providers? A credible resource has featured your product? Don’t be shy — spread the word about it! Share the received recognition across your social media channels and in your email newsletter. If any trust badges are available, be sure to place them on your website.
#5 Showcase customers’ logos
Do you work with well-known and reputable companies? If so, showcase their logos on your website. It’s an easy and effective way to build confidence with your prospects landing on your site.
Quicksprout shares the experience of removing a section with partners’ logos from a website. As a result of this experiment, the conversion rate dropped by almost 10%.
#6 Provide significant figures and data
You might have already noticed that companies are sharing impressive figures on their websites:
- The number of customers served;
- The number of projects completed;
- The collective revenue their clients have made.
Showcasing the significant figures and data serves as social proof validating the loyalty of customers to a brand. So, try adding such a block to your website and see the impact on your conversion rate.
#7 Highlight top-selling and trending products
Being exposed to a wide range of products makes it difficult sometimes to make a purchase decision. Seeing what’s popular among other customers makes things easier for online shoppers. Besides, it relates to a consumer’s psychology: if so many people are buying this item, then it must be good!
To help your prospects make a purchase decision, highlight the top-selling and trending products in any of the following ways:
- Add a “Best-sellers” section to your product catalog;
- Mark certain items as “Top-selling” and “Trending”.
#8 Implement AI-powered recommendations
The tactics we’ve covered above are great for convincing the new buyers that your products or services are worth buying. Why not open new sales funnels and introduce social proof to those who’ve already made a purchase?
With AI algorithms, you can set up personalized product recommendations for your customers. Such recommendations usually say that “people who bought this product also bought this and that item.” This tactic opens up cross-selling and up-selling opportunities to increase an average order value.
Amazon was the first company to succeed with this approach. Since then, more and more eCommerce brands are adopting this practice. According to Salesforce, 26% of online sales come from visits where a user has clicked a recommendation.
#9 Show other customers’ activity
Creating a sense of urgency and playing on FOMO (fear of missing out) are the proven conversion drivers. Now, imagine how powerful they are in combination with social proof!
Savvy marketers have already recognized the power of this combination. To nudge prospects with social proof and urgency, they are using the following triggers on the product pages:
- The number of people viewing a product;
- The number of people who have bought a product;
- Tags like “Trending”, “Top-selling”, “Going fast”, etc.
An indication that other customers are actively buying a product proves its value in the eyes of uncertain customers.
Want to dig deeper into this idea? Enrich your social proof and urgency triggers with a similarity principle!
As we’ve already mentioned at the beginning of this article, people tend to trust those who are similar to them. To play on this trigger, show the visitors that people just like them have chosen this or that product. To highlight the similarity, you can reference users’ geolocation. For example, you can add an overlaying text saying that “X customers in Seattle have already purchased this item”.
#10 Display stock levels
Scarcity is another indicator that a product or service is worth buying. When seeing a low stock, potential customers are more likely to take immediate action and make a purchase.
eCommerce brands are illustrating scarcity in their online stores by displaying:
- An indication of a low stock;
- The exact number of products left in stock.
#11 Leverage user-generated content
What makes user-generated content so powerful? Compared to traditional types of content, users find UGC way more trustworthy. According to Stackla, 79% of people admit that UGC they see influences their buying decision.
Here are some content ideas to encourage your followers to share:
- Unboxing videos;
- Product in action (also known as action shots);
To get the most out of UGC, create a branded hashtag and introduce it to your audience, so they can use it in their posts covering your products.
When people are truly excited about a product, they willingly share their feedback — you don’t have to ask them to do this. But you can also incentivize them to feature your brand in their social media posts. Just a few examples of the effective incentives:
- Offering a discount code for sharing pictures and videos showcasing your products;
- Featuring the best reviews on your website and social media channels.
To keep track of your online reputation, be sure to monitor social media mentions and respond timely. Leverage social listening tools to automate this process.
#12 Partner with influencers
Want to get your brand in front of a wider audience? Consider partnering with influencers!
According to the influencer marketing stats, 49% of the users rely on influencer recommendations. Why is that? The secret power of influencers is the level of trust they’ve built with their following. Having your product endorsed by a reputable content creator can work as a strong social proof for your prospects.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on influencer marketing campaigns. Consider partnering with micro- and nano-influencers to drive your brand awareness and sales. As a rule, these content creators have a very engaged audience in a targeted niche. As data shows, they receive up to 60% higher engagement rates of macro-influencers.
Unlike influencers with a huge following, nanos are ready to work with you for smaller budgets. Sometimes, they can even accept a free sample as compensation. Wondering how much an influencer marketing campaign will cost? Use a money calculator to evaluate the potential cost for an influencer collaboration.
#13 Build a community around your brand
Your customers may have valuable insights about your products or services to share with others. So, allow them to become your brand evangelists!
For example, you can enrich the functionality of the customer reviews website section. Consider adding an option to ask a reviewer a question. You can also add a feature to vote for a review. Or, you may have a dedicated customer community section on your site.
You can also set up a community on external resources. This can be a Facebook or a LinkedIn group where users can ask questions and exchange opinions. In such communities, your prospects can unveil all the concerns they might have about your products.
Additional tips on using social proof in your marketing strategy
We hope you will find the social proof tactics we’ve discussed in this article useful. Now, we’d like to share some extra tips for you to follow.
Consider your business specifics
While it might be tempting to try all the tactics that we’ve covered, consider your business specifics first. What works great for the B2C market may not be a good fit for a B2B company.
For example, personalized recommendations are good for an online clothing store. With a software development company, industry recognition will be a better social proof for the target audience.
Strengthen your arguments
Throughout the stages of your sales funnel, you are making certain arguments regarding your product or service. Make sure the social proof you leverage goes in line with these arguments. Highlighting the product benefits is way more effective than just the general praise from customers.
Address the objections
Are you aware of the major concerns your prospects have while making a purchase decision? If yes, craft your social proof content with those potential objections in mind. If not, work on a list of objections first.
Collect social proof constantly
Feeling like you have collected social proof in different formats? Your job doesn’t finish here! Getting social proof should be an ongoing process. You need to rotate the persuasive elements of your marketing strategy to see what works best for your company.
As you can see, social proof is a powerful persuasion tool that helps customers feel safe while making a buying decision. It can boost your conversion rates and ultimately drive your online sales.
Want to turn your website visitors into customers? Start implementing the social proof tactics we’ve covered in this article today!